COVID-19 has impacted communities in countless ways, and local governments are turning to tech visionaries like Accela, the leading provider of cloud-based solutions for government, to help ensure public safety and enable the delivery of critical citizen services. Local and state agencies in particular bear responsibility for providing guidelines and leadership during challenging times, while also juggling pandemic-induced budget constraints, limited resources, and surging citizen demand for business continuity.
When the pandemic hit, Accela heard from city and state customers about the most critical challenges they needed solutions for immediately to keep operations running and citizens safe and healthy. In response, the CA-based company developed a suite of 13 cloud solutions within 2 weeks, each one purpose-built to help all local and state governments (not just customers) with specific use cases to offer online citizen services, enable mobile capabilities for staff, and conduct virtual inspections -- and be able to implement them within weeks, regardless of financial or human resource constraints.
The goal of Accela’s program was to develop quick-to-implement technology solutions to ensure governments could continue to issue permits and licenses, encourage commerce and business continuity, and protect the health and safety of citizens, even when the citizens and government employees were required to work from home (many of whom had not done that previously). In tandem, the company aimed to promote the availability of the solutions and showcase to all governments how local and state agencies were using technology to keep their communities running during the pandemic.
In March 2020, Accela set out to make a significant impact in supporting state and local responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Accela rapidly conducted outreach to government IT decision-makers, who were simultaneously dealing with the crisis personally and on behalf of their communities. To help as many agencies as possible, Accela targeted both existing and prospective customers, including those unfamiliar with Accela, through a multi-pronged approach of webinars, thought leadership, digital advertising, and media articles around the COVID-19 Response Solutions. Key components were developed and executed by Accela team leaders remotely across departments within days.
After launching the solutions, Accela’s customer success, support, professional services, product, engineering, and cloud teams worked hand-in-hand with end-users to implement the solutions remotely and ensure critical services continued running digitally, which many agencies were unprepared for given the rapidly-changing nature of the pandemic. Accela was able to onboard existing customers within 1-3 days and offer 14-day-or-less implementations for new agencies. Accela also offered to provide financial assistance to agencies to ensure every jurisdiction can support their citizens during the pandemic.
Accela sought to provide detailed information about its solutions to as many people as possible in the new virtual world. The company offered free, live, instructor-led video training courses and hosted 13 webinars -- in a matter of 6 weeks -- to provide governments with guidance on how to maximize the utility of their SaaS solutions for COVID-19 response. Accela also partnered with the govtech industry’s media authority, e.Republic, to co-host 2 additional webinars on “Navigating the Recovery: A Guide for Reopening State Government Offices and Services” and “A Local Leader’s Guide for Reopening.” These virtual events reached more than 1,000 government attendees.
Thought Leadership Resources
Accela produced a foundational guide for the govtech industry, COVID-19 Playbook: A Framework for State and Local Government Restoration and Reopening, to help governments review considerations for the incremental opening of government departments and front counters. Prior to Accela’s Playbook, no resource existed to help guide the efforts of reopening the business of government. In conjunction with e.Republic, Accela authored a white paper, Budgeting Through Uncertainty, offering advice for government leaders on navigating declining revenues and shifting priorities in uncertain times. The resource has been downloaded hundreds of times.
Website, Social and Digital Advertising
To boost awareness and further drive digital transformation during this pivotal time, Accela bolstered social and marketing initiatives through dynamic native advertisements and a new website page dedicated exclusively to highlighting the company’s suite of COVID-19 Response Solutions, use cases and customer success stories, as well as links to extensive govtech industry resources, blogs and thought leadership pieces to serve as a helpful hub for all governments.
Media Outreach and Sharing Customer Successes
To showcase how its customers were successfully tackling the challenges of COVID-19, Accela conducted ongoing targeted media outreach to local, national, and international audiences. Company executives engaged in more than a dozen media interviews, highlighting customers’ ability nationwide to keep business services going during the pandemic.
Accela’s digital engagement spiked in April, marking a 70% increase from the previous eight-month average, contending for the company’s highest engagement rate ever.
In April, Accela’s new COVID-19 Response Solutions webpage received 600% more views than other solution webpages.
Accela Response Solutions’ impact on cities and counties garnered 33 articles across outlets including Business Insider, San Francisco Chronicle, Benzinga/Yahoo Finance!, Smart Cities Dive, and Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Accela news releases reached an audience of ~515M readers and placement in at least 850 online outlets, totaling an approximate reach of 555M people.
Within 180 days, 2,807 government staff used Virtual Inspections to serve 3,276,180 citizens; 37 government staff completed 22,567 Health Assessments to serve 471,519 citizens; and 100 government staff leveraged the Reopening Business solution to benefit 1.477M citizens. Across eight cities and counties, 7,519 permits were submitted via Online Citizen Services.
Baltimore County, Maryland transitioned 3,500 employees to remote work within just three weeks. It leveraged Accela to create an online payment system processing between 100-500 transactions daily to maintain revenue and development projects moving forward amidst shrinking budgets.
Manatee County, Florida processed an unprecedented 3,097 permit requests within one month and maintained business as usual amid the pandemic.
Suffolk County, New York is leveraging Accela’s Business Reopening solution to address 400 citizen requests weekly.